Hearts on their sleeves: Raiders win it for Perry
Jamarcus Perry wasn’t on the floor for Southern Vance’s nail-biting win Friday night against Northern, but his presence loomed large in Raider Gymnasium.
Perry, injured in an assault Monday, led Southern onto the floor in a wheelchair and watched the game near the Raider sideline.
Southern edged Northern 44-43 in the 3-A Carolina Conference opener and both teams’ first game back from the holiday break.
“I felt his vibe on the court,” said Perry’s teammate, Ty-Traveon Roberts. “I hate it for him. It’s a bad situation, but I know he’ll be alright.”
“We told him this game was for him,” Roberts added. “We kept looking over at him toward the end of the game to show our appreciation, to show him that we really love him.”
Perry received the injuries after being beaten with a wooden bat. He was transferred from Maria Parham Medical Center to Duke University Medical Center.
Perry, who had recently moved into the role of starting point guard, said doctors expect him to fully recover in about six months. It was hard to watch Friday’s game from the sidelines, Perry said, but he just felt blessed to be there.
“It’s real tough, especially watching them play Northern because I wanted to play them,” said Perry. “But it’s alright. As long as they won and I can be there with them, that’s all that matters.”
Raider coach Torrey Nowell visited Perry at Maria Parham the night of the attack.
“He just said, ‘Hey, ‘I’m good, coach. I got you,’” said Nowell. “That whole time before he had surgery, before he went to Duke, he was talking to us and telling us that we would be fine.”
Nowell said the Raiders, motivated by Perry’s strong spirit and will, were prepared to play.
Donning new shooting shirts with Perry’s No. 3 printed on the right sleeve, each member of Southern’s team greeted Perry in front of the scorer’s table during pre-game shootarounds.
“It was special,” said Nowell. “The guys were pumped up, of course. It was emotional. We want to keep him a part of the team.”
A Cameron Evans free throw put the Raiders ahead for good with six seconds on the clock. Northern’s Le’Darius Brandon connected on a 3-pointer, but it left his hands after the buzzer had sounded.
“I was nervous at first,” Perry said of the game’s end, “but I knew once my boy Cam was going to the free throw line, I knew he was going to knock them down.”
Big tests ahead for Raiders, Vikings
Southern and Northern have away dates Friday with what are likely the two most talented teams in the conference. The Raiders visit Chapel Hill while the Vikings are off to Oxford to face J.F. Webb.
Chapel Hill started league play Thursday with a 53-43 win at Orange. Webb opened with a 77-50 victory over Cardinal Gibbons.
Nowell has been preaching discipline all season for the Raiders. He said his 6-6 team still has to learn how to play basketball.
“We’re still missing some basic fundamentals that we have to work on,” said Nowell. “But we’re going to get there, keep on drilling them, watch some film.”
Juniors Shawn Henderson and Qualik Shearin along with Jahun Ricks will fill in by committee for Perry at point guard. Only Henderson scored on Friday with six points.
Roberts led Southern with 13 points. The Raiders’ leader in emotion and hustle, Reggie Hunter, doesn’t always fill up the stat sheet, but recorded a rare double figure game with 10 points.
The atmosphere surrounding the game was intense as always with a boisterous, packed gym.
“Pretty exciting,” said Nowell, in his first season as Southern head coach. “I enjoyed the enthusiasm of the crowd. I enjoyed the enthusiasm of the players on both teams. I think both teams played hard and fought hard.”
Nowell said he was impressed with Northern and expects the Vikings to surprise some teams as the season goes on.
Northern was led by Brandon’s 12 points.
Viking coach Wilton Baskett pointed to missed free throws throughout the game as the culprit for the loss. Northern was 5-of-10 at the line in the fourth quarter.
“We can’t play that way,” said Baskett. “That’s the story of the game right there. You have to make them.”
Northern, up one point at halftime, entered the fourth quarter down 35-26.
Brandon tied the game at 40 with 2:48 to play with a drive to the left side of the basket, laying it in for the score.
About a minute and a half later, the Vikings successfully broke Southern’s full-court pressure and Jaleel Seward finished at the rim, giving Northern a 42-40 lead and capping an 18-5 run that started in the third quarter.
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